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July 18, 2005 12:04 AM

Broken: Icons on corporate van

VansignPhilip Hollenback writes:

Here's a logo seen on the side of a van from some document management company. The text is fine, but quick: what do the icons mean? It's a mystery to me.

This was taken near Wall Street, NYC.



I get those icons now!

Posted by: Seth Nelson at July 18, 2005 12:19 AM

the first icon seems to be Utah . . .

Posted by: Adam at July 18, 2005 12:52 AM

First: we'll hit your data with a pool stick and manage it into the ocean.

Second: You will require a knowledge of Rubik's Cube to recover your data.

Third: Although we say we're protecting your data, note that we're defining this with red (blood) and pointing right to the shredder.

Fourth: We will use our green shredder to carefully file your documents.

Posted by: sparky at July 18, 2005 02:17 AM

Easy...from top to bottom, the icons mean:

Document Management Services, Integrated Document Solutions, Data Protection Services, and Secure Destruction Services. See, they knew they were just funky icons that they made up for the services, so they were nice enough to label them for us. Still people like you whine that it is broken. Perhaps in the future, you could READ the words, and maybe figure it out.

Posted by: Mona Lott at July 18, 2005 06:01 AM

Icons are broken, full stop (or 'period'). They rarely make sense unless labelled (or 'labeled').

An observation that makes more sense in the realm of interface design, but which also applies here.


Posted by: DJM at July 18, 2005 06:55 AM

They aren't icons, they are graphic bullets. Setting aside whether it is a good idea to run down bullet points about your company's services on the side of a van, each item is just a point about the comanpany's service offerings. Providing just plain text is boring, and not particularly eye-catching, thus spicing it up with some accent graphics that have some vague thematic relationship to the bullet items.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at July 18, 2005 08:21 AM

And how did this negatively affect your customer service experience?

Not broken. As Carlos said, these appear to be bullets, not actual information.

Posted by: Jay at July 18, 2005 09:59 AM

How is this broken, you ask? If I was in the market for document management services, one look at these amateurish, obfuscatory, nonsensical diagrams (whether icons or bullets) would incline me to look pretty carefully at their competition.

How can you trust a company that visualizes "integration" as pushing bits *out* of a whole?

Posted by: E.T. at July 18, 2005 10:58 AM

Yeah, these could be broken, but i doubt the icons themselves are designed to convey any sort of information.

>How can you trust a company that visualizes "integration" as pushing bits *out* of a whole?

That's true. Pretty stupid.

Posted by: Bob at July 18, 2005 11:14 AM

I agree that these are not broken only because thy are bullets/graphics and not true icons. But there is something BROKEN around here. I just can't tell if it's me or the image links. About 80% of the time I am unable to view the larger-sized image. All I get are misc ASCII characters. Can anyone help me with this?

Posted by: Danimal at July 18, 2005 11:57 AM

What I find funny is that the Data Protection logo points directly to the Secure Destruction logo.

Posted by: Michael at July 18, 2005 12:05 PM

Broken. Bullets are traditionally identical. This example causes you to spend time trying to figure out how the changing, obscure icons somehow relate to the text next to them.

Posted by: Jimmy Yellen at July 18, 2005 12:31 PM

Oh my God! It's the 9/11 attack plan! Look at it.

Posted by: Citizen Of Trantor at July 18, 2005 03:10 PM

They're not icons, they're coconuts, it's a simulation!

Posted by: onery at July 18, 2005 06:23 PM


Posted by: aybabtu at July 18, 2005 07:11 PM

ok i think i get some of them. I have no idea what the first one means, but the rest kinda make sense. In the 2nd one, The documents are moving and arriving in a another place, which explaines the whole seamless integreation things. Then, for data protection, the arrows moe in one direction, which could sybolize a data stream. For the last one, I think it may be kinda like the box is stopping the arrow, as a metaphor for the companies secure protections. But althought these may make a little sense, (to me at least) its definately broken because the icons are supposed to be quick and easy to affiliate with the text. They should not require really any thinking at all. Good post.

Posted by: J Forsyth at July 18, 2005 07:29 PM

This is obviously a harrowing story about one arrow man standing up for his people.

Panel 1: Arrowman, alone in his endeavor, attempts to break down the oppressive "Document Management Services", which represents Big Business and the government. He is sad that no one sees this plight, but resolved that he must go alone.

Panel 2: "Document Management Services" has changed to "Integrated Document Services", signaling the change in Arrowman's situation. He has found a partner and friend to trust, and together they are able to chip away at the foundations of tyranny.

Panel 3: Arrowman must step into the white void in order to complete his mission. His newly found friend is, in fact ,a traitor. He deserts Arrowman in fear, using the excuse that he is "protecting" himself. The name "Data Protection Services" illustrates this betrayal, as "Data" is French for "cowardly".

Panel 4: Arrowman is caught by the authorities before he is able to step into the void. He is alone once more, contemplating his fate in the back of his cell, staring out of the cell bars. He knows they will soon take advantage of the "Secure Destruction Services", and he will be no more.

Posted by: someone you don't know at July 18, 2005 08:01 PM


Hilarious. I must agree.

Posted by: Alex at July 18, 2005 11:54 PM

somebody set up us the secure destruction services.

Posted by: Bob at July 19, 2005 08:41 AM

Well, if those are just supposed to be flashy bullets, it's not obvious. I dunno if it's just me, but I always thought of bullets to be SMALLER than the text they're listing at least. The size indicates a more complex functionality than to just list plain text, yet without labelling they're meaningless. Pretty broken.

Also, to whoever said icons are inherintly broken as they're senseless without labelling... in Europe, the large variety of different languages of tourists means a lot more signs include graphical icons to indicate their meaning... and they're generally not too difficult for joe the confused tourist to decipher.

Posted by: Robert at July 19, 2005 11:20 AM

How do these icons create a bad user experience? (Aside from giving a few people the fleeting feeling of self-importance, that is)

If anything, these bullet points have *enhahnced* the user experience. The van has gone from a simple ad, in and out of your mind, to creating hours of enjoyment for all of us on TIB.

Posted by: Patrick at July 19, 2005 12:36 PM

Dang, you guys are on your game today (and yesterday)!! Thanks for all the laughs! =D

Posted by: ambrocked at July 19, 2005 12:41 PM

DUH!!!!!! people put stupid stuff on their advertisements so you will think and talk about it! you will remember those icons won't you? of course you will! because you are questioning them, and also by the way I am eleven years old and I could think of a better explanation than most of you! THINK ABOUT THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Fashizzle Gizingar! at July 19, 2005 09:59 PM

I suspect that meaning wasn't part of the spec. This is obviously a company with Consultants (not just consultants) so meaning anywhere in their work is incidental. "Our mission is to continue to enthusiastically integrate high-quality methods of empowerment so that we may endeavor to collaboratively leverage other's quality intellectual capital because that is what the customer expects" - uhm. Yes. (In all honesty that one was from

Posted by: Morten at July 20, 2005 03:50 AM

Well, instead of stupid icons, they could have just put the company logo to fill the space to the left of the text.

A company logo is more important and eye catching than some weird little icons.

Its broken.

'Nuff said.

Posted by: [insert name here] at July 21, 2005 10:36 PM

I have to agree that this is merely a clever marketing conceit. Anything that gets people to notice, remember, or discuss you is a good thing from a marketing standpoint. Even if the discussion is confined to a minute corner of the Web.

I think anything that is potentially deliberate is Not Broken.


Posted by: PatheticPeripatetic at July 22, 2005 04:47 PM

I just saw a semi with those symbols today! I was like Ok, there's Secure Destruction Services! Yup, it's broken!

Posted by: Bob at September 8, 2005 03:33 PM

Just those pictures being so dumb makes it Broken.

Posted by: Little box with stupid arrow at October 31, 2005 03:49 AM

The company name is Recall, i believe..

I would kinda venture to guess that the block is the company, the black one, the little block could be entering the bigger block, going with that they take in your info, the second one, the blue one, means they take data in and put data back out, so its all in one place, thrid, the block is within them, so its not going to go anywhere, fourth, the block is being shreaded, so it goes bye bye... its not really that broken..

Posted by: Wali at February 26, 2006 01:33 AM

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